A Kamloops judge has ruled in favour of a group of outspoken First Nations protestors opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, ordering the Crown corporation to turn over security correspondence leading to a 2018 altercation on the campus of Thompson Rivers University.
Three members of the Tiny House Warriors (THW) protest group are slated to stand trial next week in Kamloops provincial court on charges of assault, causing a disturbance and mischief stemming from a confrontation outside a high-level meeting on Dec. 10, 2018, helmed by former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci and including Trans Mountain, Natural Resources Canada and a number of area First Nations chiefs.
The meeting took place in rented space on TRU’s campus and was not a university event.
Nicole Manuel, Chantel Manuel and Isha Jules were charged following the confrontation, which included THW members, police and security officials.
Court has heard members of the THW spilled red paint on the ground and stormed the meeting, breaking a microphone and throwing a paint-soaked scarf at a First Nations chief. They are also alleged to have engaged in physical altercations with security.
Defence lawyer Joe Killoran has suggested the altercation was a result of over-policing and a bias among Mounties and security officials. According to Killoran, police and security were convinced the THW protestors were a threat before the confrontation took place.
Killoran applied last week to Kamloops provincial court Judge Stella Frame, asking for an order requiring Trans Mountain to turn over documents relating to the THW and its members, suggesting the correspondence may shed light on alleged racism and bias toward the group.
With the start of the trial a week away, Frame delivered her decision on Monday (Nov. 9), ordering Trans Mountain turn over a thumb drive containing surveillance documents and memos relating to the three accused from company security officers Peter Haring, Tim Neuls and Pier-Oliver Poulin.
Frame said she plans to review the documents on Wednesday, Nov. 11, and hand over any relevant items to defence lawyers.
“All that may be relevant is whether these members of the security detail received instructions to treat these applicants [THW] as dangerous,” she said.
Haring, Neuls and Poulin are each expected to testify at trial next week. Haring and Neuls are former RCMP officers employed by Trans Mountain, while Poulin has worked in the past as a security officer for several federal agencies.
In court documents, Haring and Poulin are named as complainants in assault charges against the accused.
In his application last week, Killoran made several bold claims alleging racist bias and illegal spying on the part of Trans Mountain. In her decision on Monday, Frame made it clear neither Trans Mountain nor the Tiny House Warriors’ right to protest are on trial next week.
“It will be about whether the enumerated offences occurred and whether the Crown has proven that beyond a reasonable doubt,” she said.
The five-day trial is slated to get underway on Monday.